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April 30, 2014

The Water Haller – April 2014: YOU CAN READ ME LIKE A BOOK! ... or a tweeter

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Reaching out to young people can be a challenge, but it certainly is fun. I recently participated in a "Human Library" event with the Ottawa School Board. It was kind of a Career Day meets Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood. Dozens of community professionals made themselves available to Ottawa high school students to explain what they do and discuss the major issues of that field.  I felt a bit like an old textbook next to some high profile politicians, business leaders and media stars and was sure I’d be left on the shelf. But I was "checked out" and survived five sessions of 2 to 5 students at a time. We talked about treatment methods, infrastructure, sinkholes climate change and bottled water. 

As part of my own life story, I got to tell them the story of the Walkerton Tragedy. I was shocked that none of them had ever heard of Walkerton. How quickly we are lulled back into a sense of security — kudos to the Province of Ontario and to all provincial and local governments for making consumers feel so safe. I was asked many great questions about water and the local environment. They asked what they could do in their own schools, and (hopefully) initiated a few efficiency projects and a couple of "Refill Your Own Bottle" campaigns. There were also several questions about the punk rock part of my bio and what type of music I like now (but that’s another story).

In the end it was a lot of fun and extremely inspiring for me. These students are keen and ready to save the world. The greatest compliment, aside from a tweet that said I was a "super nice guy and funny too," was that despite all the doom and gloom of climate change and other challenges, I left them with a positive message that they could do something about this world. 

Speaking of tweets, a wonderful Young Professional set me up on Twitter last year and coached me through the process (far easier than I imagined). Well that Twitter coach was Natasha Niznik — winner of WEAO’s YP of the Year! Congrats, Natasha! Meanwhile, I am trying to be more active on Twitter. Follow me @WaterHaller     


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